MY Access Training for BMS Grades 6, 7, & 8 on 10/20/11

Below are Jane Cook's notes from the BMS MY Access training that she conducted on October 20, 2011:

Jane Cook’s Notes from BMS MY Access! Training on 10/20/11

8:30-11:30 AM 7th & 8th Grade
In attendance: Jim, Jane, and Kathy

Does MY Access Make a Difference?
We discussed the BMS data and whether MY Access is having an impact on student achievement. Jane downloaded BMS CMT data from the current 7th graders who used MY Access in 6th grade and created a pivot table which showed the following data:

Current Grade 7 BMS Students Grade 6 CMT
Holistic Writing Score Levels March 2011
# of Students
%age of Students
Proficient or Above
Below Basic or Basic
Exempt or did not take
Though this data is only from one year, it shows that the vast majority of BMS 7th graders are at the proficient or above level on the Direct Assessment of Writing (DAW) section of the CMT. One can extrapolate from this data that MY Access had a positive influence on their scores. This was confirmed by Pam Skelly and Glen Lessig when they analyzed data for the EETT grant evaluation report.
Jane also downloaded CMT data for the current 8th graders when they were in 6th grade and 7th grade. Those students were in the MY Access! pilot when they were 6th graders. More scored at the Proficient or Above level when they were in 6th grade than when they were in 7th grade. Since MY Access hasn’t been used on a regular basis in 7th and 8th grade, one can’t draw conclusions about what effect MY Access! has had on those BMS students’ DAW scores.

Common Core State Standards and MY Access
We talked about the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) which Connecticut’s State Board of Education adopted on July 7, 2010 when the Connecticut State Department of Education (CSDE) was applying for a Race to the Top (RTTT) grant. Unfortunately, Connecticut did not receive funding for RTTT. However, the legislation is in effect; many of the mandates take effect in the 2014-15 school year so that districts have time to prepare and align their curriculum. Currently, Connecticut districts are preparing to follow the CCSS, they are still being measured by the Connecticut Mastery Test (CMT) which is aligned with the Connecticut Curriculum Frameworks, the state standards that were developed and adopted over the past ten years. Therefore, the CSDE has worked with the Alliance of Regional Education Service Centers to develop “crosswalks” which show the alignment between the CCSS and the Frameworks.
Jane explained that the new online assessment which aligns with the CCSS is scheduled for the 2014-15 school year. She had just facilitated a videoconference the day before with Stan Rabinowitz who is one of the leads for the SMARTER Balanced Assessment Consortium. During the videoconference, Stan said that the new test will have 30,000 test items and will be adaptive in nature. This means that if a student gets a question correct, the test will ask a more difficult question and if the student gets a question wrong, the test will ask an easier question. There will be fewer questions but there will be a holistic writing sample much the same as the CMT that will be taken and scored online. There will be pilots of the assessment in Connecticut in the next two years prior to the test “going live” in three years.
We discussed the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and how MY Access aligns with them. Jane explained that since MY Access teaches students about writing process and assesses their writing online, it is directly aligned with the CCSS which supports teaching writing as a process. Since MY Access gives students the opportunity to write and receive feedback online, it is also a valuable way to prepare students for the high stakes online testing that is coming soon.

Benefits of Using MY Access
We discussed some of the benefits of using MY Access. Jane has created a page on the BMS 21st Century Wiki which includes resources for teachers and links to research on MY Access. To find this resources and research, go to: Benefits include:
  • MY Access gives students Instant feedback on their writing; it takes roughly 10 seconds after students click the Submit button to receive their feedback which they use to make their revisions. No matter how good a teacher is at writing instruction, there is no way that they can give students that kind of instant feedback.
  • MY Access contains an online Resource and Training Center for students. Some of the highlights include:
    • MY Access! Writer's Guide
      The Writer's Guide is an online writing textbook. Readers will learn about the steps in the writing process including chapters on each of the traits/domains-focus and meaning, content and development, organization, language use and style, and mechanics and conventions.
    • Student Activity Workbook
      The student activity workbook is an accompaniment to MY Access Lesson Plans and contains 70 printable student activities.
    • Using MY Access! School Edition
      A library of short how-to videos to help you use MY Access!
    • MY Access! Student's User Guide
      This guide provides step-by-step directions to use MY Access! at the student level.
    • Energize Your Writing
Lists of adventurous adjectives, awesome adverbs, vivid verbs, transient transitions, commonly confused words, literary terms, and writer’s vocabulary words
  • Writer's Helpers
Lists of from quarter to fifty dollar adjectives, verbs, tags, adverbs, verbs and transitions to strengthen a student’s writing
  • MY Access! Instructional Documentation
This section contains tools to help students plan and organize, draft, build thesis statements, revise, do research, and edit. It contains printable versions of the word bank lists and instructional tools and activities for persuasive writing, informative writing, informational writing, narrative writing, and literary writing. There are also printable versions of the 6-point and 4-point rubrics.
Information about MY Access! for parents.
  • MY Access contains an online Resource and Training Center for teachers. In addition to all of the tools and resources listed above in the Student Resource and Training Center, the Teacher Center also includes:
    • MY Access ! Curriculum Planning and Instruction
A variety of curriculum planning and instructional templates and lesson plans and instructional units
  • MY Access! Prompt and Writing Resources
Documents which show alignments to Common Core State Standards, Literary texts, state tests, textbook themes as well as a MY Access! Prompt catalog.
  • MY Access provides a variety of reports that allow teachers to see the strengths and weaknesses. This allows teachers to make flexible groups and target their writing instruction to address individual student needs
  • Based on data collected from the BMS EETT grant, MY Access has good predictive value for how students will score on the CMT. See the EETT Grant Evaluation Report with the data that Pam Skelly analyzed for this data. This means that MY Access can be used to target students who should receive SRBI intervention in writing. It can also be used to assess their areas of weakness so instruction can be targeted to address their specific needs.
  • MY Access gives students practice in taking online tests. This will help prepare them for the high stakes online tests from the state in 2014-15.

Hands On Practice Using MY Access!
Jim, Jane and Kathy worked on creating their groups for the 2011-12 school year and giving them MY Access! writing assignments. Jim and Jane also created some MY Prompts which align with their curriculum.

12:00-3:00 PM 6th Grade
In attendance: Sharon, Kathy, Diane, and Enrica

Review of Data from the Fall Benchmark
We logged in as the generic Grade 6 Teacher to review the scores from the Fall Benchmark. The teachers looked at their own students’ scores while Jane downloaded the data as a CSV file and imported it into Excel. She disaggregated the data and created a pivot table. We found the following for the new 6th graders’ baseline data:

Fall Benchmark Numbers & Percentages
N = 82
# Proficient & Above (3 and above)
% Proficient & Above (3 and above)
# at Basic (between 2 and 2.9)
% Basic (between 2 and 2.9)
# at Below Basic (between 1 and 1.9)
% at Below Basic
% Non-scorable

The teachers discussed this data and talked about looking at the students’ CMT data from March 2011 to see if there was a pattern.
Jane downloaded the CMT data for those students when they were 5th graders last March and added it in a new worksheet in the spreadsheet. She conditionally formatted the DAW scores and the Writing Level scores using “stoplight highlighting”. The table below describes what the color coding means on the Grade 5 CMT Data March 2011 worksheet:

Writing Level/s
DAW Scores
4 (Goal) or 5 (Advanced)
9 through 12
3 (Proficient)
6, 7, or 8
1 (Below Basic) or 2 (Basic)
Less than 6

Jane will e-mail Glen the spreadsheet that she used to create this pivot table so the teachers will have it for further data analysis.

Using Data from Fall Benchmark to Determine Instructional Needs and Proposed MY Access! Writing Intervention Block
We used “stoplight highlighting” on the fall benchmark data which is located on the worksheet entitled Pivot Table of Grade 6 Fall2011 to identify those students who would benefit from a writing intervention. After reviewing the data generated from the MY Access! reports on the 6th Grade Fall Benchmark and the CMT writing scores from those students when they were in 5th grade last year, the teachers talked about selecting a group of students who are at the Basic Level in writing and who would benefit from having MY Access! as their targeted intervention. They felt that it would be possible given the current configuration to have two groups of 6th graders with six students in each group.
We looked at the pivot table of the 6th Grade Fall Benchmark data (Pivot Table of Grade 6 Fall2011) and identified 12 students who scored 2.6, 2.7, or 2.8. Those students’ scores are highlighted in yellow.
Jane and Sharon talked with Al and Glen about the possibility of starting two 6th grade MY Access! Writing Intervention groups. Jane offered to share the Writing as a Process Module that she developed for Windham Middle School (WMS) during the summer and that they are using this year during their Enrichment Block. It is designed to teach students the writing process and have them take two pieces of writing – one fiction and one non-fiction – from pre-writing to final publication. Jane’s Writing as a Process Module is posted on the WMS Wiki at: Scroll to the bottom of the page and download the file entitled WMS_Tier_II_Literacy_Intervention_Module_-_Writing_revised_9-1-11.doc.

Refresher in Using Reports to Determine Student Needs
Jane handed out an explanation about how to generate reports and demonstrated how to use the Performance Summary Report and the Error Analysis Report. Jane recommended using the Error Analysis Report without the Student Roster for getting useful information on what instruction students need in the areas of Usage, Style, Grammar, and Mechanics. In the Word document which is available at the bottom of these notes is a screen shot of the Error Analysis Report for the BMS 6th Grade Fall Benchmark. It shows that there are 214 Clause Errors and 81 Subject-Verb Agreement Errors which appear to be appropriate areas of focus for mini lessons.

If teachers are unsure what an error type means, they can click on the name of the error which is a hyperlink to the Error Description. In the Word document which is available at the bottom of these notes
is a screen shot of the Error Description for Subject-Verb Agreement Errors:

Q & A
Q: Is it possible to completely eliminate a prompt that has been given and also remove all data relevant to it so overall data is not affected?
A: Yes – There are two ways of doing this:
  1. Teachers can delete a prompt for an entire group; that will delete all of the work associated with that group and will leave the rest of their data intact.
  2. Teachers can delete a submission for a prompt from an individual student. That will delete the student’s data but leave the group’s data intact.

Q: Is it possible to generate a group report for your students if the prompt was assigned by another teacher?
A: Jane submitted a MY Access! Tech Support request. They called back with the following information. MY Access! Is designed so that one teacher cannot manipulate another teacher’s assignments, even if they share students. If you want to be able to view your students’ writing on an assignment that you have not given them, you need to have the School Admin log into MY Access! and create a school-wide writing assignment. According to MY Access! Tech Support, teachers can then view the school-wide writing assignments for their students by going into the Student Portfolio section.

Jane Cook’s Work at BMS in 2011-12
Jane is scheduled to work with the teachers for 3 days in 2011-12: 1) 10/20/11, 2) 2/21/12, and 3) A date in the spring yet to be determined. We discussed the spring date and determined the following:
  • The April vacation at BMS is 4/16-4/20/12
  • The teachers would prefer late April or early May 2012
  • Jim would prefer a Monday
  • 7th and 8th would prefer PM
We settled on Tuesday, 4/24/12, or Monday, 4/30/12. Glen will check with Al and the teachers to see which date is best and will let Jane know.
Al asked if Jane could come on November 10th for the BMS full day of in-service. Jane checked her schedule and is unable to rearrange the meeting that she is already committed to on November 10th.

February 21st Training Topics
The February 21st day is a full in-service day. We discussed whether to continue with the half-day format or have all three grade levels work together during the full day. We decided it would be beneficial to have everyone work together for the full day so that there could be opportunity for teachers to share issues and successes and “cross pollinate” across the grade levels. These are some of the topics to be covered on 2/20/12:
  • Analyze data from MY Access assignments – What are the implications for instruction
  • Review reports and how they can be used to inform planning and instructions
  • Targeting instruction for individual students or groups
  • Teacher and student resources in MY Access
  • MY Access! as a writing intervention – How is it working?

  1. Jane will email Glen the notes and the Excel spreadsheets from today’s work and ask him to share these with the teachers and Al.
  2. Glen will let Jane know which date the teachers prefer in April – 4/24/12 or 4/30/12.
  3. Jane will include the link to the WMS Writing Module in these notes. Jane’s Writing as a Process Module is posted on the WMS Wiki at: Scroll to the bottom of the page and download the file entitled WMS_Tier_II_Literacy_Intervention_Module_-_Writing_revised_9-1-11.doc.
  4. Jane will add MY Access! research information on the BMS Wiki and include the link in these notes. MY Access! research can be found at: - scroll down to the bottom of the page.

For a copy of these notes stored in an MS Word file, click here --> Jane Cook Notes from BMS MY Access training on 10-20-11.doc